Amal (the Vista who works in our service learning office) and I had a great meeting with a new community partner today. 'Living Stones Community' partners with Michigan Corrections to provide job training for recently released convicts, especially ex-cons in Washtenaw County where the number of colleges (particularly U of Michigan and Eastern Michigan) has led to much competition for jobs and, by extension, a higher recidivism rate. Folks re-entering society have fewer options there and often return to lives of crime. So Living Stones offers such individuals the chance to learn how to grow and market fresh foods. The organization is part of the urban farming movement which has picked up much steam in southeast Michigan. They want to work with our students; Amal and I are going to make it happen.
In a day pretty much devoted to the Civic Engagement Project (sorry English 327 students clamoring for your graded papers--you'll have to wait until next week), I also met with the Provost to finalize plans for the hiring of a dedicated service learning director. We have been lobbying for such a position for several years and it's finally going to happen. Director duties have been assumed by faculty members (most recently me) operating with course releases, Vista volunteers, nickles, dimes, and even some twine. Next year, that will not be the case. Stay tuned here and on facebook for information on this long-awaited job search.